Britain sings Christmas was surely ITV’s weakest contribution to the festive schedule (although I am sure there will be many more disappointments to come) and what a real load of shite it turned out to be. This festive, vomit inducing program was hosted by Kate Thornton (who seems to have no noticeable talent apart from getting booked to host any old shit) and was a glorified karaoke night with audience members and people up and down the UK encouraged to sing along. With this display of carol killing Ms Thornton has added to her ever growing CV of; forgive the pun and Americanism, turkeys.
The incredibly simple and cheap format shone through to the program and revealed more about the nose diving careers of some of the nations once loved celebrities (not by me I hasten to add) than it did about the nation. The people who shameless put themselves on display were nothing more than a collection of publicity starved and possibly penniless "stars" who have turned out to sing the nation's favourite Christmas songs.
Such luminaries of the entertainment industry who graced my screen for the duration of the first song only included, former Eastender Charlie Brooks (she was fat Barry’s wife, Jeannie Butcher), Kim "I haven’t got a garden to tend to" Wilde, Jo "I used to be funny as a militant man hater but since moving into regular TV have decided to sell out and take whatever work I can get" Brand and a whole host of other Z list celebrities who couldn’t find an envelope opening to go to.
What a rubbish and one dimensional format that is you might say, but you’d be wrong. There was an audience participation part too. Mugs, I mean members of the public from four cities around the UK (Birmingham, Cardiff, Belfast and Gateshead) gathered together in the cold, presumably in front of a big screen showing something they could watch at home in front of the fire to sing along and occasionally clap and cheer like sea lions at an aquarium when told to by Ms Thornton.
There were some people there who could sing, they were professional singers from the west end and the opera world but, like all of the people who voted I didn’t know who they were and I didn’t care enough to find out their names.
Where exactly did they get the nation's favourite songs from? The nation of course, or more accurately the people who have nothing better to do than phone and register that they think Bing Crosby’s White Christmas is the best Xmas song of all time.
This merry band of serial song slayers were guided by an incredibly irritating pair of Grants, David and Cary who both insisted on standing in front of these so called singers, waving their arms around like Simon Rattle on acid.
The highlight (or lowlight, I’m not sure) was undoubtedly the pairing of Diarmund Gavin and Jo Brand singing Fairytale of New York; her because presumably she looks rough and fits in with the Macoll/Mcgowan pairing and him because…oh yeah he’s Irish.
Kate Thornton kept adding to the misery in between every song by reminding us that we could order a CD of all of the night’s songs to listen to whenever we want ( £2 of every £2.99 sale went to the prince’s trust). That would be the musical equivalent of getting food poisoning from a restaurant and then winning a year’s supply of free takeaways to re-poison yourself at your leisure.
The nations 10 favourites contained a few notable exemptions for me and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the Paul McCartney had refused permission for them to perform Wonderful Christmas and that the phone in was rigged (as seems to be the fashion nowadays) and only songs that were within the range of the performers were included (had that actually been the case then the program would have been very short indeed!).
I think Gary Glitter’s 'Another Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas' should have be included, but then he is evil isnt he and by proxy so is everything he has ever recorded. Other notable absentees were Blue Christmas by Elvis, Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow by Dean Martin and Jonah Lewie’s Stop the cavalry which is probably a touch too political for prime time TV.
I was however incredibly pleased and surprised to not see Cliff Richard make a cameo appearance singing one of his dull and preachy Christmas songs.
Thankfully I was a click away from listening to these songs the way God intended (or at least the original artists) by choosing the appropriate song from my computer. This was car crash TV if ever I saw it, you cannot help but watch these poor wretches humiliating themselves on national TV.
I have lost 5 minutes of my life that I will never get back and the worst part is that I don’t even get paid to watch this drivel. Hark, the herald angels sing? I think not.
Next on ITV was Star traders: the Christmas challenge where something shit was traded for something else shit until they had something that was deemed worthy of auctioning in front of a studio audience. I watched just enough to realise I didn’t want to watch the rest. That point came when I realised the host was the silver fox Phillip Scofield with sidekicks Kieran Bracken and Mylenne Class. I turned the TV back on in time to see the end, where someone in the crowd, inspired by Queen of the Jungle Christopher Biggins to part with £35,000 for some jewellry and a pair of football boots worn by Wazza Rooney. By far the best part though was when the man from the charity Shelter came to say a few words with the lucky bidder and put both feet well and truly in his mouth. He explained how the money would be used , said how pleased he was and how the money would help them touch hundreds of children. Not what charities should use money for is it?
Orson Welles once said that he hated Television. That he hated it as much as peanuts. But that he couldn’t stop eating peanuts. Well I hate peanuts too but I cant stop eating them either which perhaps explains why I feel compelled to expose myself to something on TV I know will infuriate me at least once a week.
Next is an audience with Celine Dion and I really am turning the TV off until Match of the day comes on because the only way I can exorcise the demons of these diabolical programs is to write something about them and I fear that if I keep watching terrestrial, Christmas TV, I will spend the festive period in front of a computer instead of in the pub like most people.